The basic proofread for marketers with a small budget

If you can’t afford to hire a professional copy editor or proofreader to review your marketing communications before final publishing, here’s how you can do a very basic proofread of the item by yourself.

These steps cover some basic items to look for, and they work best if your marketing piece is fairly simple, on one page, for example, and not text heavy. These steps also assume you have the “final” designed piece (digital or printed) in front of you, ready for your approval.

  1. Put the piece away somewhere and don’t look at it again until the next day.
  2. Read it again slowly and calmly for sense and flow, and verify that the main message is clear overall. Since you’re about to go live with this piece, you shouldn’t be making any major content (or design) changes.
  3. Now look at it in more detail. Read it again from the beginning. Review each and every word for spelling, especially proper names. Misspellings are the worst error to miss.
  4. Verify that any dates, times, phone numbers, and Web or street addresses are correct.
  5. Now look for space issues. Look for extra spaces between paragraphs, sentences, words and letters. There should be only one space between sentences, not two. Strange spacing in text (if it is not intentional) is awkward and off-putting.
  6. Check if any text is accidentally cut off or covered up by something in the design, making it unreadable, or if text has somehow dropped out. Missing text or covered text errors are especially sloppy.
  7. Submit your changes to your Web or graphic designer.
  8. On the revised version, check that your changes were done correctly. Glance at the whole piece again and verify that nothing else was changed by accident. If everything looks good, then you’re ready to approve. If not, go back to step 7.

What about grammar or punctuation? If you have a doubt, you’ll have to consult the copywriter who wrote the piece.

Common places for copy errors on a website

websitemenusWhen asked to review already published websites, I find that copy in the more functional parts of a website, namely in these three places, can get neglected:

  • Drop-down menus
  • Menus within menus
  • Field names and drop-down menus in forms

The text in these areas often have errors in spelling, casing and alphabetizing, and sometimes in sense and wording. This text is easily overlooked, as it is hidden from view until you click on or hover over something else. With forms, the focus seems to be more on the amount of field space provided.

Be sure to review every bit of copy on a website, not just the main content; all of the text is important.

Stop. Before it goes live online, get it proofread.


One of the last steps before your project goes to print is to get a final proofread (and color check) of your printer’s blueline.

But what about a final proofread for the online version or for the projects that only get published online, like that e-blast to your customers, or the post for the company blog, or the multiple Web banners in your latest ad campaign?

After staging and final production work, and before your online project goes live, don’t forget to get a final proofread. For help with final proofreading, contact me.